RIAT Royal International Air Tattoo 2018
Copyright: Gianluca Conversi

Images from RIAT Royal International Air Tattoo 2018, Fairford UK

A record crowd of 185,000 people enjoyed a feast of flying as the Royal International Air Tattoo staged international celebrations marking the Royal Air Force’s Centenary at RAF Fairford. In total, 302 aircraft, from 43 air arms representing 30 nations attended the airshow, of which 121 took part in the flying display.

Among the flying display highlights were a number of unique flypasts. A special tribute to the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron saw the iconic Lancaster bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly in formation with the squadron’s current aircraft, the Tornado, and the RAF’s new state-of-the-art F-35B Lightning that made an impressive hovering in front of the tower. Currently, 9 F-35B are in UK soil came back from US training schools on total of 15 in service.

Another flypast featured nine RAF Typhoons in formation, as part of centenary celebrations. Other flying highlights included displays by the US Air Force Heritage Flight with the state-of-the-art Lockheed Martin F35A Lightning II; the Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker; the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornet; the French Aéronavale Rafale M duo; the Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori aerobatic display team and the RAF’s Red Arrows. Visitors on Saturday were treated to a rare flypast by a US Air Force B-2A Spirit stealth bomber that had made the round trip from its base in Missouri, US.

The French Team “Couteau Delta” flying two 3rd generation fighter jets Dassault Mirage 2000D delighted the crowd with a spectacular 10 minutes fly.

Unfortunately, the biggest and impressive 100 aircrafts flypast, seen over Buckingham Palace some days earlier and scheduled on Friday, has been cancelled due to the bad weather conditions on the base and on the Channel area where the helicopters, planes and jets had to assemble the various formations before flying to Fairford.

In the static aircraft park there were examples of aircraft from around the world including debut appearances by the Embraer KC-390 from Brazil, the Kawasaki C-2 from Japan and the Italian Leonardo Helicopters (former AgustaWestland) HH-101A CaeSAR tactical helicopter from the Italian Air Force.

Just days prior to the airshow, history was made as the first transatlantic flight by a civilian-registered Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) touched down, ushering in a new era in unmanned aviation. The impressive General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian is the latest version of the company’s MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted air system. Capable of flying for up to 40 hours at a time at altitudes of up 40,000ft, when SkyGuardian comes into RAF service it will be known as ‘Protector’.

It was displayed on the showground protected by metal fences with a set of MBDA Brimstone air-to-ground missiles and one laser-guided bomb.

The impressive static display also showed the variety of RAF current flying training and operational planes and jets and at the yellow entrance we had a concentration of the electronic intelligence, surveillance and air control aircrafts in service with RAF and RAAF: the rare American Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint, the unique Bombardier-Raytheon Sentinel R1 and the most famous “AWACS”, due to its big radome, Boeing E-3D Sentry; a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing E-7A Wedgetail was also in the section.

Another and rare Boeing C-17A Globemaster III airlift cargo, with the colors and serials of the NATO Strategic Air Command was in the static display.

Among the Royal guests in attendance at the Air Tattoo were HRH the Duke of Kent, Patron of the RAF Charitable Trust; HRH Prince Michael of Kent; HRH The Princess Royal and HRH Prince Feisal bin Al Hussein of the Jordanian Royal Family.

Guests from the world of politics included the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond; the Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson; the Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood and the Minister for Defence Procurement Guto Bebb.

In total, the Air Tattoo hosted 79 military delegations including 64 military chiefs from around the world including Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier; the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones; Chairman of the NATO Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach and Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger.

The Royal International Air Tattoo’s three-day celebration of RAF100, the centenary of the Royal Air Force, came to its traditional conclusion on the Sunday night with the award of trophies at the hangar party.

Introducing the presentations was Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, chairman of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. His Royal Highness Prince Feisal of Jordan presented the first of the awards, the King Hussein Memorial Sword for the best overall flying demonstration, in memory of the late His Majesty King Hussein, patron of the International Air Tattoo and Royal International Air Tattoo from 1983-99.

Its recipient was the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which on Saturday performed a unique ‘Trenchard Plus’ formation comprising the Douglas Dakota, Avro Lancaster, two Hawker Hurricanes and three Supermarine Spitfires. Sunday’s display saw the BBMF flying its ‘Trenchard’ formation of Dakota, Lancaster and two Spitfires, named for the first Chief of the Air Staff, Lord Trenchard, upon the RAF’s formation in 1918.The other awards went to RAF Red Arrows, Couteau Delta, F-16 Solo Solo Türk, Jordanian Falcons and thw two F/A-18 Finnish and Canadian demo jets.

The Air Tattoo returns next summer from 19-21 July 2019 at RAF Fairford to celebrate 70 years of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).

Participating aircraft list:

(F)=Flying Display, (S)=Static Display

Royal Australian Air Force
– E-7A Wedgetail (S)

Austrian Air Force
– C-130K Hercules (S)

Belgian Air Component
– A-109BA (F)
– ERJ-135/145LR (S)
– F-16AM (S)
– F-16MLU (F)

Royal Canadian Air Force
– CC-130 Hercules (S)
– CC-177 Globemaster (S)
– CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team (F)
– CH-146 Griffon (S)

– A400M (F)
– Auster Mk.5 (S)
– Avro C.19 Anson (S)
– Avro Tutor (S)
– AW189 (S)
– Bulldog T.1 (S)
– Cessna 152 (S)
– Chipmunk x2 (S)
– de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth (S)
– Diamond DA-20 Katana (S)
– Dornier Do-228 (S)
– EuroFox (S)
– EV-97 Microlight (S)
– Folland Gnat T.1 (S)
– G450/550/650 (S)
– Great War Display Team (F)
– Hawker Fury (S)
– Hawker Hunter Mk.58 (S)
– Hunter Mk.58 (S)
– Ikarus C42a x2 (S)
– Jet Provost Mk.5 (S)
– Jet Provost T.3 (S)
– Jet Provost T.3A (S)
– KC-390 (S)
– M-346FA Fighter Attack (S)
– Meteor (S)
– Miles Magister (S)
– *MQ-9B Sky Guardian (S)
– OV-10B Bronco (S)
– P-51D Mustang – Heritage Flight (F)
– PA-28 Cherokee (S)
– PA-28 Cherokee (S)
– Percival Pembroke C.1 (S)
– Royal Aircraft Factory Be-2 (S)
– Shorts SC-7 Skyvan (S)
– Spitfire Mk.Vc (S)
– Sting S4 (S)
– Sycamore – Flying Bulls (S)
– TB-20 Trinidad (S)
– Tecnam P2008 x2 (S)
– Tecnam Sierra (S)
– Vampire FB.52 – NAFHS (F)
– Vampire T.55 – NAFHS (F)
– Westland Whirlwind (S)

Czech Republic Air Force
– JAS-39 Gripen (F)

Royal Danish Air Force
– C-130J (S)
– F-16 x2 (S)

Estonian Air Force
– An-2 (S)

Finnish Air Force
– F-18C Hornet (F)

Finnish Army Aviation
– NH90 TTH (F)
– NH90 TTH (S)

French Air Force
– Mirage 2000D (F)
– Rafale C (F)

French Navy
– Emb-121AN Xingu (S)
– Rafale M x2 (Tactical Demo) (F)

German Air Force
– A400M (S)
– C-160D (S)
– EF2000 (S)
– Tornado IDS TLG-33 (S)
– Tornado IDS TLG-51 x2 (S)

German Navy
– EC-135 (S)

Hellenic Air Force
– F-16C – Team Zeus (F)

Royal Jordanian Air Force
– C-130H Hercules (S)
– Royal Jordanian Falcons (F)

Irish Air Corps
– CN235 100MP (S)

Italian Air Force
– A-200C Tornado (S)
– Frecce Tricolori (F)
– C-27J Spartan (F)
– C-27J Spartan (S)
– F-2000A Typhoon (F)
– F-2000 Typhoon x2 (S)
– HH-101A (S)
– HH-139A (S)
– T-346A (F)

Japanese Air Self-Defence Force
– Kawasaki C-2 (S)

Lithuanian Air Force
– C-27J Spartan (S)

Royal Norwegian Air Force
– F-16AM/BM x2 (S)

Royal Air Force of Oman
– C-130J Hercules (S)

Pakistan Air Force
– C-130 Hercules (S)

Polish Air Force
– C-130E Hercules (S)
– F-16C (F)

– Airbus Helicopters H125 (S)
– Grob 120TP (S)

Slovak Air Force
– C-27J Spartan (S)

Slovenian Air Force
– L410UVP Turbolet (S)
– PC-9M Swift (S)
– PC-9M Swift (F)

Spanish Air Force
– Patrulla Aguila (F)

Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)
– C-17 (S)

Swedish Air Force
– JAS-39C Gripen (F)
– JAS-39C Gripen (S)

Swiss Air Force
– F/A-18C Hornet (F)
– PC-7 Team (F)

Netherlands Coastguard
– Do-228 (S)

Royal Netherlands Air Force
– AH-64D Apache (S)
– CH-47D Chinook (S)
– F-16AM/BM x2 (S)

Turkish Air Force
– F-16C Falcon (SOLOTURK) (F)

Ukrainian Air Force
– IL-76 Candid (S)
– Su-27 Flanker (S)
– Su-27 Flanker (F)

Royal Air Force
– A330 Voyager KC.2/3 (S)
– A400M Atlas C.1 (S)
– A400M Atlas C.1 (S)
– BAE-146 CC.2/3 (S)
– C-130J Hercules C.4/5 (S)
– C-17A (S)
– Chinook HC.4 (F)
– E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (S)
– Grob Prefect (S)
– Grob Tutor x2 (S)
– Grob Viking TX.1 x2 (S)
– H135 Juno HT.1 (S)
– H145 Jupiter HT.1 (S)
– Hawk T.1/1A (S)
– Red Arrows (F)
– Hawk T.2 (S)
– King Air 350 (S)
– Phenom 100 (S)
– Puma HC.2 (S)
– RC-135W (S)
– Sentinel R.1 (S)
– Tornado GR.4 x2 (S)
– Tucano T.1 x2 (S)
– RAF Tutor – Saturday (F)
– Typhoon FGR.4 (F)
– Typhoon FGR.4/T.3 x2 (S)
– F-35B Lightning II (Flypasts)
– BBMF Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricanes & Dakota (F)
– Royal Air Force Massed Flypast (cancelled) (F)

Royal Navy
– Hawk T.1 (S)
– Merlin HC.3 (S)
– Merlin HM.2 (S)
– Sea King ASaC.7 (S)
– Wildcat HMA.2 (S)

Army Air Corps
– Defender 4000 (S)
– Gazelle AH.1 (S)

USAF Air Force
– F-35A Heritage Flight – F-35A & Mustang (F)

US Air Force Global Strike Command
– B-1 Lancer (S)

USAF Air Reserve Command
– C-17 Globemaster (S)
– HC-130P/N (S)
– HH-60G (S)
– KC-10 Extender (S)

US Air Force Special Operations Command
– CV-22B (F)
– CV-22B (S)
– MC-130J Commando II (S)

US Air Forces Europe
– F-15C (S)
– F-15E (S)
– KC-135R (S)

US Navy
– E-6B Mercury (S)
– P-8A Poseidon (S

Article: Gianluca Conversi, Airtattoo press release
Images: Gianluca Conversi